Monday, April 02, 2007

Traffic psychology

Traffic psychology is a young increasing field in psychology. Whereas traffic psychology is first and foremost related to "the study of the behaviour of road users and the psychological processes underlying that behaviour" as well as to the relation between behaviour and accidents, transportation psychology, sometimes referred to as mobility psychology, has its focus on mobility issues, individual and social factors in the movement of people and goods, and travel demand management (TDM).
There is no single theoretical framework in traffic psychology, but many specific models explaining, e.g., perceptual, attentional, cognitive, social, motivational and emotional determinants of mobility and traffic behaviour. One of the most famous behavioural models divides the various tasks concerned in traffic participation into three hierarchical levels, i.e. the strategic, the tactical and the operational level. The model demonstrates the diversity of decision and control tasks which have to be accomplished when driving a vehicle. However, until now, most of the psychological models have a rather heuristic nature, e.g. risk theories like the risk compensation hypothesis, Fuller's task capability model, and thus are not adequately precise to allow for concrete behavioural prediction and control. This is partly due to the importance of individual differences, a major topic of psychology which in traffic and transportation has not yet been adequately accounted for. On the other hand, social-psychological attitude-behaviour models, such as Ajzen's theory of planned behavior, have been helpful in identifying determinants of mobility decisions.

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